The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded $38.3 million to more than 100 fair housing organizations and other non-profit agencies in 43 states and the District of Columbia to address housing discrimination.
The grants are provided by HUD’s Fair Housing Initiatives Program aid in the enforcement of the Fair Housing Act, through investigations and testing of alleged discriminatory practices and education efforts focused on housing providers, local governments and potential victims of housing discrimination about their rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act.
“Ending housing discrimination is at the core of HUD’s mission and it takes dedicated people on the ground to address it,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “These funds support community-based organizations that do great work every day on the front lines in the fight for fairness and equality in our nation’s housing market.”
According to HUD, the grants were provided in three separate categories:
- Private Enforcement Initiative grants – HUD awarded $29.2 million to help local non-profit fair housing organizations carry out testing and enforcement activities to prevent or eliminate discriminatory housing practices.
- Education and Outreach Initiative grants – HUD awarded $5.5 million to groups that educate the public and housing providers about their rights and responsibilities under federal, state, and local fair housing laws.
- Fair Housing Organizations Initiative – HUD awarded $3.6 million to help build the capacity and effectiveness of non-profit fair housing organizations, particularly organizations that focus on the rights and needs of underserved groups, such as rural and immigrant populations, and support broader geographic availability of fair housing resources.
“The Fair Housing Initiatives Program provides the only federal grant support to private fair housing enforcement and education,” HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Gustavo Velasquez said. “Dispersed throughout the country, these grants enable our partner agencies to stand beside us in the fight against housing discrimination, and we couldn’t do it without them.”
In recent months, HUD has fined several lenders over allegations of discrimination. Earlier in October, HUD announced a $5 million settlement with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, resolving allegations that the lender discriminated against women who were pregnant, or had recently given birth, and were on maternity leave.
In September, HUD fined U.S. Bank National Association, U.S. Bank subsidiary Red Sky Risk Services, (formerly known as USB Lending Support Services) and one of U.S. Bank’s loan officers, over claims that they had refused to refinance the mortgage of an American Indian couple in Belcourt, North Dakota, because their property is located on a reservation.
Earlier in September, HUD also fined FirstBank Mortgage Partners over claims that the lender had also denied a mortgage loan to a couple because one applicant was on maternity leave.
According to the original complaint filed against FirstBank, a married couple alleged that FirstBank approved their mortgage application and scheduled its closing, but upon learning that the wife was on maternity leave, the lender reversed field and denied the mortgage loan.
HUD also fined Freedom Mortgage in August over claims that the lender discriminated against loan applicants with disabilities.
According to HUD, Freedom Mortgage did not apply the same underwriting practices and procedures to people with disabilities as it did to people without disabilities.
Click here to see the list of organizations awarded funding by HUD.